Why Visual Thinking Matters

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Have you ever found yourself trying to write a paper or craft a speech, staring at your computer screen, trying to line up words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs – struggling to find the structure of what you want to say? Searching for the path to take your reader or viewer on?

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Have you ever tried to learn something new and the ideas just don’t stick? The lesson goes into one ear and out the other? *poof* The learning is lost?

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Have you ever been deep in the middle of a difficult decision that you feel surrounded by it? Trapped? You’ve longed to rise above it so you could see the big picture and clearly see the decision you need to make?

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Have you ever found yourself tackling a REALLY BIG problem, so complex that it feels like a giant, complex tangle? Have you wished you could tease apart the tangle, to pull into apart into solvable pieces?

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed? All the to-do’s and ideas buzz around in your head like a swarm of bees. The mental noise is so pervasive you just can’t think straight?

And what happens then?
The Inner Critic pipes in...

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I'm not a good writer.
Why is writing so [email protected]#^! hard?
No one is going to listen to me anyways...
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I feel stupid.
am stupid.
Why can't I get this?
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Sheesh! Decide already!
It doesn't matter, I'm going to make the wrong choice anyways.
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This problem is going to EAT ME ALIVE.
What made me think I could do this?
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Where do I even start?
It's all too much!
Why even try?

*shudder*


Ugh.


The Worst.
The Absolute Worst.

The Inner Critic is nefarious.
It's tenacious.
It's ubiquitous.
It's a Grade A Jerkface.

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And what happens if you let the Inner Critic Win?

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❌ The speech falls flat or the paper is unpersuasive.

❌ It may be as concrete as one bad grade...

❌ ...Or big, but amorphous, as not getting your message out into the world.

 

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❌ The time, energy and money you invest in your education is wasted if you’re not truly learning

❌ Your lack of knowledge is keeping you from getting where you want to go, being who you want to be.

❌ That spark for learning goes out.

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❌ At best you’re stalled out by that pesky, not-yet-made decision.

❌ At worst, the unmade decision creates a domino effect of bad stuff, or folks frustrated with you.

❌ You lose your sense of agency because you've convinced yourself you're bad at making decisions.

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❌ That REALLY BIG problem goes unsolved, wasting your time, stacking up stress, costing you money, losing opportunities.

❌ You stop looking for the difficult-but-oh-so-worthy projects and default to the simple, but shallow stuff.

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❌ The sense of overwhelm stops you in your tracks before you even get started.

❌ Over time, the overwhelm wears you down physically and erodes your confidence.

❌ You just stop trying.

YIKES.

 

NO.

 

We don't want that.
No one wants that.

 

Let's NOT do that.

 

I’ve got the solution to each one of these problems.

It’s at your fingertips.

Watch below.

 

Are you shifting in your seat? Inner Critic already in your ear saying —

I haven’t drawn since I was 7!

I can’t draw a straight line.

That’s not me. I’m not an Artist.

That Inner Critic l❤❤❤❤❤ves to hate drawing.

That is because drawing is the secret weapon for slaying the Inner Critic.

The Inner Critic hates nothing more than transparency.

He/she/they/it can't hide in the shadows if there are no dark corners.

That drawing gives you a new perspective! It sheds light! 

The Inner Critic loathes the tangible.

It/they/she/he revels in being slippery and pernicious. (Yeah, I just said pernicious. If you don't know it, it'll become your new favorite word to hiss.)

Making your thoughts and feelings concrete on paper (or tablet, or whiteboard...) gives those thoughts and feelings LIFE! Power! Possibility!

 

Drawing out your ideas is the first step in making amazing things happen.

I am here to help you
learn these lifelong skills
and shush your Inner Critic.

Who am I and how do I know this? 

My name is Brandy Agerbeck. I was that kid who drew all the time. That’s me when I was seven, at my family’s cabin. I never stopped drawing. And I am an artist. I even got a Bachelors of Art and was a printmaker (intaglio and monoprints, mostly). See? I know fancy art terms.

But seven year old me or twenty year old me never would have guessed the work I have done for the past 23 years. Alongside writingteaching and speaking about visual thinking, I’m a graphic facilitator. It's a very strange job!

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I make giant, live drawings of a group's work. In front of them, while the are working.

It helps them feel heard, focus, collaborate more with less conflict, align more quickly, be more productive, and see just how productive they have been.

These can be:

⭐ Conversations
For example, internal strategy meetings and brainstorming sessions

⭐ Presentations
Like big annual conference and keynote sessions

⭐ Co-creation
When you don't have an event, but you need my superpower of visual synthesis

I get to do my two favorite things for a living: drawing and thinking. And adding my listening skills, I'm unbeatable. It is my role and responsibility to be the Chief Visual Thinker for the clients I’m serving. It is extremely gratifying work to be able to show and shape the words, ideas, thoughts and experiences of the participants.

An example from the Tinkering Summit hosted by the
Chicago Children's Museum in 2013:

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A time-lapse video The Kennedy Center created from my work with them in 2016 at their Arts Summit on how to be a Citizen Artist:

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The majority of this site is about how I can help you learn these skills for yourself. Not necessarily the role of graphic facilitation, but the visual thinking skills that can help you in countless scenarios.

If you instead want to hire me as a graphic facilitator, to listen/think/draw for you, hop on over here to my page on my graphic facilitation experience

Contact me to discuss your needs. 

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Back to you, my smart cookie.

A human can recognize an image in as little as 13 milliseconds!

Our culture is increasingly more visual and we are surrounded by media.

You are becoming a more sophisticated viewer of visuals, even if you don’t feel capable of making images. Or you don't have the vocabulary to talk about what you see.

I want to change that. I want you to be confident in making drawings to make meaning for yourself. I want you to put that power into your own hands

Here’s the deal —

Even if you haven’t drawn since you were seven, there’s no reason you can’t start up again today.
You’re simply out of practice.
If you need a straight line, we’ve got rulers for that.
The right tools make this easier.
And you absolutely do not need to be an artist, or think of yourself as one, to be someone who draws.

Full stop.

I create every single visual thinking resource — booksonline courseslive workshops — because I know from both personal and professional experience how powerful drawing is as a thinking tool.

My own first step in bringing anything to life is to grab paper and pen and start sketching. Sometimes those drawings get redrawn and refined later. Often, they don’t need to. That near-scribble of a drawing and scrawl of writing accomplished its task. It shifted my thinking. It got me a step closer to the task at hand.


Here’s a beautiful truth. It’s a secret I am eager to share –

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I want YOU to make your own beautifully messy drawings.
I want YOU to sharpen your visual thinking skills to think critically, communicate clearly, and reduce overwhelm.
I want YOU to reclaim drawing as your best thinking tool, to put YOUR thinking into YOUR own hands.
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I get it. Drawing is unlikely a part of your daily life. It may feel childish or a thing only artists do. Unnecessary or inaccessible.

Here's 3 free resources that I hope are good context-setters and mind-shifters. Each was crafted to help you see good reasons to put your thinking into your own hands.

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My Brandyfesto

Before the books, in 2011, I created this PDF to introduce you to me and what I believe in. Click on the image to open the file.

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Shape Your Thinking

I very happily spoke at TEDxWindyCity in 2013. Following the day's theme of Contrast, I spoke of 2 types of learners and how to work in the space they share. You'll see the 5-step process that is the first seeds of The Idea Shapers.

Click to watch video >>

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The Draw Quad

I began 2011 chewing on the question "how do I help people to see how drawing fits in their life?" How it could actually help and *gasp* be fun?

Click to learn more >>

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From a lifetime of personal drawing and 22+ years of professional experience, I've discovered that these are the types of folks I am here to serve. I am not saying there are only 5 types of visual thinkers, just that these are people I can help. Take a look and see which ones feel familiar:

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You are motivated by helping people make positive change.

Facilitators  |  Graphic Facilitators  |  Change Mgmt Consultants  |  Change Agents  |  Therapists  |  Counselors  |  Agile Practitioners

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You are motivated by the pursuit of knowledge & skill building.

Life-long Learners  |  Students  |  Educators  |  Librarians  |  Trainers  |  Learning Professionals

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You are motivated by finding the clarity within complexity.

Leaders  |  Directors  |  Analysts 

Strategists  |  Researchers  |  Project Managers

Information Architects

UX Professionals

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You are motivated by self-awareness, growth & accomplishment.

High achievers  |  Bullet Journalers  |  Entrepreneurs  |  Intrapreneurs   |  Small Business Owners

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You are motivated by getting your message out into the world & understood.

Writers  |  Speakers  |  Leaders  |  Teachers  |  Students  |  Influencers  |  Communication Professionals

 

Did any of these resonate with you? Likely more than one?

Yep.

You are never just one thing.
We take on different roles for different situations.
And all of these roles in life and work can be
supported by drawing.

Let me be your guide.

Welcome, Visual Thinker.

I am happy that you are here.

My site, Loosetooth.com, is your home for visual thinking.

Every resource I create (books, online courses, workshops, and soon our online community) is built to help you put the power of your thinking into your own hands.

When you strengthen your ability to get your own thoughts out of your head and onto paper, you unlock one indispensable tool with countless possibilities. 

Here are some examples:

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⭐ Push around the parts of your presentation on sticky notes, til you find just the right flow.

⭐ Draw out and share your visual structure with your audience to make your message stick.

⭐ Banish writer's block with the humble index card.

 

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⭐ In class, take visual notes that shift you from human tape recorder to real live learner.

⭐ Sketch visual mnemonics to lean on visual memory in test-taking.

⭐ Make a drawing of a tough subject to create higher levels of meaning on Bloom's Taxonomy.

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⭐ Nothing wrong with a Pro/Con list, but a 2x2 matrix may map out more nuance in your decision.

⭐ Making a physical drawing often elicits physical cues. Tune into your body's signals as you draw. Where is the tension? What causes goosebumps? These gut reactions may make your decision clear.

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⭐ The complexity of visual thinking is a worthy partner to a complex problem. Even with simple shapes and lines, you can turn a tangle into a clarity.

⭐ Iterate your drawing to take a problem from mess to murky to maybe-this-works to mastered.

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⭐ Just get that swarm of ideas, feelings, possibilities, worries out of your head and away from the Inner Critic!

⭐ Even the messiest of drawings makes your inner thoughts tangible, and easier to navigate.

⭐ Erase overwhelm and take the first step in making great things happen, by making a drawing.

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Fantastic! Let's GO.

There's a lot of ways to learn these skills. 

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If you want an immediate drawing experience that is highly guided
—  just hit play and follow along —
I recommend registering for my mini-course Draw In Your New Year.

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I walk you through 4 specific drawings that are super easy to do, but still chock full of meaning-making for yourself.

Get details and register for $97:

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The power of visual thinking is at your fingertips.

Here was an introduction to WHY visual thinking matters. Let Brandy's books, online courses, workshops and online community lead you through all the WHATS and HOW, WHEN and WHERE with ease and joy. 

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